Tag Archives: contrast

Matthew 23 – Pharisees (Conclusion)

This appears to be the third and final chapter explaining and critiquing the Pharisees and Jesus wrath on them.

It’s interesting because after spending the past two chapters criticizing the Pharisees and their many problems, in the first part of this chapter Jesus strikes a different kind of tone.  He had been telling the disciples to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and He had been comparing them to disobedient sons, wicked men who lease a vineyard, subjects of a king who refuse to obey the king, and more.  Now however, Jesus instructs His disciples differently.  “The scribes and the Pharisees have seated themselves in the chair of Moses; therefore all that they tell you, do and observe, but do not do according to their deeds; for they say things and do not do them.”  So even though the Pharisees have been evil in so many different ways, the disciples are still to have obedience towards them (to some extent).  They have been placed in a place of leadership.  The disciples are still to observe them and obey them, but they are to disregard their actions and life application.  That’s kind of a surprising thing to hear from Jesus after so much lambasting.  However, it does parallel Old Testament commands to obey the leaders of the people, but that we should obey God / YHWH over them.

Jesus then continues on to speak eight woe’s to the scribes and Pharisees (hypocrites): Woe to you…

  1. … you prevent others from entering the kingdom of heaven, and you refuse to enter yourself.
  2. …”you devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense you make long prayers
  3. … you travel all over to make one disciple and make them twice the son of Satan as you are.
  4. … you make a big deal about the treasures of the temple and the sacrifices (that give them wealth), and you disregard the purpose and reason for it.
  5. … you focus on the minuscule details of the law, but you ignore the major points like justice, mercy, & faithfulness.
  6. … you clean and make pretty the outside of the cup, but you ignore what is important inside.
  7. … (directly related) you appear / act righteously, but you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.
  8. … you build the tombs of the prophets and honor them saying, “If we had been living in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partners with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.“, but you are going to do exactly as you say you would not do!

There is such a contrast here!  Christ says to follow the law and the leaders of the law, yet in the very next breath He is condemning the very same people!  I don’t know how well most American’s in today’s world can understand and relate to this principle.  Too often we feel that if the leader is unjust we should not have listen to them or  to do what they say.  That somehow the leader’s obedience / disobedience to the law or even our own expectations some how precludes our loyalty or obedience.  That does not fit with what Christ is saying here.

What do you think?

John J. Camiolo Jr.

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Matthew 9 – Responses

As time goes on, Christ continues ministering.  It doesn’t matter where He is, or what He is doing, He keeps ministering.  However, as you will see, the people’s response to Him contrasts greatly.  A paralytic is brought to Him.  He tells him that his sins are forgiven, and not long after that, to get up and walk.  The scribes (educated folk) criticize him for the first thing, and the people were awestruck and praise YHWH for both.  Jesus eats with tax collectors and sinners.  The Pharisees criticize Him for mingling with the rabble.  Meanwhile, the tax collectors and sinners come to repentance.  John (the Baptist)’s  disciples critically question him about why they and even the Pharisees disciples fast, but Jesus’ don’t.  Jesus replies that now is not the right time.  If you expect too much from someone or something at the wrong time, you can destroy the work that needs to be done.

Day by day, people keep coming to Him, in spite of the scribes and Pharisees criticisms.  We actually begin to see deep contrasts in who and how people come to Him.  A synagogue official (public VIP figure) comes boldly to Him pleading with Him to heal and revive his dead daughter.  Meanwhile an unclean woman with an issue of blood comes to Him secretly hoping to get a scrap from the master’s table.  She wants to be healed.  While she comes in secret, He heals her publicly.  While the leader calls to Him publicly, Jesus heals his daughter in secret.

As He goes on and casts out demons, the religious leaders follow along with the gentile beliefs and decide that the only way for a demon to be cast out is if you send in a stronger, tougher demon to kick the first one out.  But then you end up with a different, stronger, demon to deal with.

Yet none of this matters to Jesus.  He feels compassion for the people for they are like sheep without a shepherd.  So, what’s His response?  That answer is in chapter 10.

John Camiolo

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